I met with another art therapist for coffee this weekend. We talked about careers, where we’re at, where we’d like to go, and more. As I talked about my art therapy private practice and how smoothly everything has been going, I noted how differently I felt just one year ago.
In May 2021, I started implementing changes in my private practice so that it could honor my needs (you read about that journey here).
Since I was doing a lot of things different from the norm in the mental health field (like setting a fee higher, choosing hours that worked best for me, limiting my caseload, etc.), I experienced a lot of fear:
What would my clients think of me?
Are other therapists going to judge me?
Are these new changes actually going to work?
I’ve spent the past year working through those fears. I’ve talked through them in therapy, consultation groups, personal conversations with friends, and writing essays like this one.
Since December 2021, I’ve written an essay a day. Today I wrote essay number 287. I’m slowly becoming bolder and bolder in stating my views and opinions. I’m slowly becoming more and more confident as I dismantle the things that scare me.
It’s been one year since I restructured my private practice to honor my needs.
All those fears? Turns out, they just lived in my head. They never became true.
I was afraid other therapists would judge me. The overwhelming majority have been supportive and encouraging
I was afraid of getting policed by the mental health field (therapists, governing board, organizations, etc.). This has not happened in any way that has impacted my ability to do what I am doing. I’ve been able to successfully run my business.
I was afraid my clients would judge me. The majority were understanding of the changes I made. The few that weren’t provided opportunities for me to dig deeper into myself and my convictions.
I was afraid the public would judge me. They’ve been supportive.
I was afraid I wouldn’t find enough clients at my fee. I did.
All of that fear was far worse in my head than anything that happened in life.
In fact, this past year was the opposite of those fears.
It has been a liberatory experience to honor my needs and structure my business so that it honors my needs. “Honor my needs” is a broad term, but what I basically mean is that I made a decision to craft my work life so that I can live as fully as possible in all aspects of my life.
My fee increase was pivotal in this because it enabled me to decrease my caseload size. It also provided me with enough money to buy my own health insurance, pay off student loans, invest in retirement, and take vacations. In essence, it has provided security for the present and my future.
I only see 2-3 clients a day on Monday-Thursday afternoons. This schedule provides me with immense space, flexibility, and freedom to truly enjoy my life. I take a lot of naps. I write a lot of essays. I do a lot of art. I have time for the things I love.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe what I’ve created. It’s hard to believe how great my life is. Sometimes, something minor happens and fear creeps back in. I worry this wonderful thing could be yanked from me.
Then I remind myself, those fears just live in my head.
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